Recently I received an invitation to “a lively discussion” at the National Press Club in Washington DC between Jeffrey J. Selingo, The Chronicle of Higher Education’s VP and editorial director, and “thought leaders”, including Terry W. Hartle, senior VP of Government and Public Affairs at the American Council on Education and Douglas Hotlz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum. As well as Carrie Hansen, Product Manager, NorthStar Education Services, Dr. Bronte Jones, Treasurer, St. John’s College, and Vince Sampson, President, Education Finance Council”
Their goal? “Develop evidence-based solutions to escalating student default rates that will help all students.”
Who’s sponsoring it? “The Career Education Corporation” and “The Education Finance Council.” The education finance council is paid to sell a college education loan to “special populations” while NorthStar Education Services is paid to enforce student loan debts.
Based on the sponsors and the speakers, do you think that this particular discussion is going to
A.) Stop the corporatization of American education?
B.) Help students get out of debt or
C.) Make conditions more difficult for every student by insisting they pay back their loans no matter HOW BIG the debt?
What do you think boys and girls?
In the grand traditions of the hilarious David Thorne at 27bslash6, I had to have a go.
My response below.
Dear Mr. Sampson,
Just wanted to thank you for the exclusive invitation to your one day conference on “student loan default,” however I will be unable to attend as I am 3,000 miles away from Washington DC.
I will however be happy to give my advice about how to avoid student loan default, saving you the trouble of having a conference at all!
Make government pay for higher education, as they do in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, and as they used to do in England.
This way, no student will ever default on a loan, because there will be no loans.
You may say, “Well, the free market”! and of course, that is what we are known for here in America.
However, the standards of living are so much higher in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark that I think you’ll agree that our current “free market” system is not turning out as we want it to.
I propose that we have unchecked capitalism at the core of why people are defaulting on their loans. Student debt has passed $1 Trillion in this country, more than credit cards for the first time ever, because of unchecked capitalism on the part of colleges and universities. According to the U.S. Department of Education, between 2001 and 2011, the average total cost to attend a four-year public college or university rose by 90 %. (emphasis mine)
Source:(Fiscal Year 2013 Budget of the United States of America, Department of Education Budget Request, p. R-‐18http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget13/justifications/r-‐loansoverview.pdf)
I myself went to a private college that now costs $250,000 for 4 years of education. In the 1970s, this school cost barely $18,000 to graduate from. Students cannot discharge their loans even in bankruptcy. Of COURSE they are defaulting.
When I asked them why they raised their prices, they said, “We’re charging what the market will bear.” Are these the words of a thoughtful, kind policy towards students? A policy that helps students NOT default on their loans? Or is it an expression of unchecked capitalism?
Unchecked capitalism eventually eats up the very markets it wishes to sell to.
Meanwhile administrative staff at universities has grown 300% in the last 30 years, while tenure goes away, and adjunct professors paid $1,500 per term become the norm rather than the exception.
Do you think that this is right?
I do not think that going to a “lively discussion” between the American Council on Education and the American Action Forum will lead to the government paying for student education. Why did you not ask some of the people you’re discussing to join you? Why not ask a student loan defaulter their side of the story? Perhaps their hard reality would be a bit much for this corporate discussion.
This sort of discussion between people paid to enforce student loan defaults and the rapacious corporatized universities would probably be as fruitful as my dog having a discussion with my cat about the state of the back porch. The cat will swipe at the dog as the dog walks by, and then, when the dog sits down, she will come over and rub up against the dog, wave her tail around the dog’s nose until the dog quietly leaves the room.
Until we legislate in Congress and the Senate for free education for our population, certain universities will continue to do exactly as they please, and charge “what the market will bear.”
Unless you’re having a session about lobbying for nationalizing education and getting the government to pay for it with increased taxes, with universities lining up for their dose of ethics, morals, and humanity, I doubt you’ll do much to change this “student loan default crisis.”
A person who still has student loan debt